Optimising your research impact

This guide provides a starting point to the tools and methods you can use to optimise your research impact.

What are Altmetrics?

Altmetrics or alternative metrics measure online social engagement with research outputs.They differ from the traditional metrics which are citation counts, impact factor and h-indices. The term altmetric was proposed in 2010 in the article "Altmetrics: a manifesto".  

Altmetrics can be applied to all fields of research. They are not reliant on the citation frequency in a field, and you do not have to wait as long for the work to mature (as with published citations) before seeing the impact.

What do they measure?

Altmetrics aim to show the impact of academic outputs through social media sharing, downloading, views, and mentions of your work. These can help show influence and engagement. Different altmetric tools and resources will measure different types of sharing and engagement of your work. Use a few different tools to see how they show the impact and reach of your works in different ways. Keep in mind that high altmetric scores do not necessarily equate to high quality research.

Where to find Altmetrics

Victoria staff and students have access to Altmetric Explorer which displays research outputs and their unique "Altmetric Badge". These are a colourful visualisation of the variety of engagement the work has received. You can search within Victoria's research outputs or across the entire database. It is recommended you sign up for an account as you can then save your search and set up alerts. A guide to using Altmetric Explorer for Institutions is here

Access from off campus can be found via the Library here

Find out more about the details for research outputs tracked by Altmetric Explorer in this video



Impactstory is a popular free altmetric tool researchers can use. It provides context to a researchers own altmetrics. Impactstory requires that you have an ORCID account which lists a number of your research outputs. 


There are a number of other places you can find altmetrics for your publications. Most online academic social networks provide their users with altmetrics for the works they upload onto their profile. ResearchGate, Mendeley and Academia all provide altmetrics to their users.

You can also use Kudos to redefine, and grow interest in your published works. Kudos will then track a number of altmetrics to allow you to see your impact and engagement grow. Kudos is free for researchers.

Why pay attention to these measurements?

Altmetrics are quicker to accumulate and  often show a more diverse and multidisciplinary impact. They can be applied to books, presentations, and data instead of being largely limited to journal articles as traditional metrics typically are. They can be particularly useful to areas of research that do not have high citation counts, as they can help show the societal impact of these areas of research.

How to use Altmetrics

Altmetrics can be a great way to show the current impact of your work. If you are interested in using altmetrics keep these things in mind:

  • Don't just insert the number of downloads, views, or mentions. Try putting the numbers in context to show how they measure up. Altmetric.com and ImpactStory provide this contextual information. For example, you could mention the fact that your article is #25 of 76 outputs of a similar age in a certain field of study.
  • Altmetrics are often best used as a supplement to citation counts/ traditional metrics. 
  • Qualitative data can often be more illuminating. Take advantage of this by telling a story about your work through them.


Similar to all metrics, altmetrics will not be able to tell the whole story. There are some things to consider when using altmetrics:

  • While altmetrics can help to show the value of an academic output, it is recommended that you use altmetrics alongside traditional metrics (citation counts) and contextual information.
  • As with all metrics there is still a potential for gaming. 
  • Altmetrics are still relatively new and their impact has not been measured by longitudinal studies.

Further reading

The ecstasy and the agony of the altmetric score by Gumpenberger, C., Glänzel, W., & Gorraiz, J. 
Publication Date: 2016

ResearchGate: An effective altmetric indicator for active researchers? by Yu, M-C., Wu, Y-C J., Alhalabi, W., Kao, H-Y., & Wu, W-H. 
Publication Date: 2016

Do “altmetrics” correlate with citations? Extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective by Costas, R., Zahedi, Z., & Wouters, P. 
Publication Date: 2015

NISO Alternative Assessment Metrics (Altmetrics) Initiative
Publication Date: 2016

Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact by Priem, J., Piwowar, H. A., & Hemminger, B. M. 
Publication Date: 2012

The Evolution of Impact Indicators by Williams, C.& Padula, D.

Publication Date: 2016